One World Trade Center is officially the tallest building in the United States, a committee announced Tuesday, The Chicago Tribune reports. The New York City building, which reached the symbolic height of 1,776 feet earlier this year, is indeed taller than Chicago's Willis Tower.
Some skyscraper enthusiasts had cried foul over One World Trade Center's new superlative as the nation's tallest because without its 408-foot spire, the building's only 1,368 feet tall, shorter than the 1,451-foot Willis Tower.
But The Height Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat-- who according to NBC is "is recognized as the final arbiter of building heights around the world"-- ruled this week that the spire operates as part of the building, and not merely as a broadcast antenna.
More from the Associated Press:
At stake was more than just bragging rights in two cities that feast on superlatives and the tourist dollars that might follow: 1 World Trade Center stands as a monument to those killed in the 9/11 attacks, and its architects had sought to capture the echo of America's founding year in the structure's height.
The building's 1,368 feet height without the needle also holds symbolism; it is the height of the original World Trade Center.
The 30 Height Committee members are industry professionals from all over the world and is widely recognized as the final arbiter of official building heights around the world. They conferred behind closed doors last week in Chicago, where the world's first skyscraper appeared in 1884.
The new World Trade Center tower remains under construction and is expected to open next year.
The designers originally had intended to enclose the mast's communications gear in decorative cladding made of fiberglass and steel. But the developer removed that exterior shell from the design, saying it would be impossible to properly maintain or repair. Without it, the question was whether the mast was now primarily just a broadcast antenna.
Under the council's current criteria, spires that are an integral part of a building's aesthetic design count. Broadcast antennas that can be added and removed do not.
Daniel Safarik, an architect and spokesman for the nonprofit council, said it might consider amending its height criteria. Such a move would have much broader implications that could force a reshuffle in the rankings of the tallest buildings in the world.